tampabay.com

One big inning boosts Patriots

Freedom rolls 11-0 over Wharton thanks to an eight-run fourth inning.

By JOEL POILEY
Published March 29, 2006


TAMPA - For some, the 11-0 score could indicate that two teams headed in opposite directions clashed at Wharton on Tuesday.

But Freedom's victory was more symbolic of both teams' present fortunes.

Freedom (8-11) struggled with consistency before spring break. But while playing in last week's Spring Fling tournament, Patriots coach Taryn Gamble said her team began putting the pieces together.

For first-year coach Nikki Seibert, Wharton (6-9) is trying to establish a program that has floundered since opening nine years ago. She is aware there will be nights like Tuesday, but isn't discouraged by her team's effort.

"We didn't play our game," Seibert said. "We're usually more fundamentally sound on defense. We fell apart mentally."

Most of that collapse occurred in the fourth inning, when three errors combined with five Freedom hits led to eight runs and a mercy-rule five-inning game. Liberty Herrero and Jackie Tetlow provided key blows with doubles, but Wharton also contributed mightily to the inning with shoddy play afield.

Tricia Stevenson (3-6) did the rest, silencing Wharton on singles by Angela Austin and Jessica Wooden. She only had two strikeouts, both in the final frame, but displayed excellent control, not walking anyone. She also contributed two hits, including a two-run single in the first inning. "She was right on," said Gamble, Freedom's only coach in its four-year history. "She hit her marks. She also fielded her position well, stopping balls up the middle that could have been hits." Malorie Larsen and Hannah Camp added two hits each for the Patriots.